Four hundred cDNA clones from rice (Oryza sativa L.) callus and root cDNA libraries, with a high similarity to about 70 kinds of ribosomal proteins (r-protein) in eukaryotic as well as procaryotic organisms, were identified by their deduced amino acid sequences. Southern hybridization of 114 independent cDNA clones with total rice genomic DNA showed 77 distinct and specific hybridization patterns. Of the 77 clones representing the above hybridization patterns, copies of 67 clones corresponding to 57 r-proteins could be estimated and, among these, only 6 clones were single copy, indicating that almost 90% of these r-proteins in rice were encoded by small multigene families. Loci of 36 r-protein genes could be mapped on the rice linkage map by using 30 full-length cDNA clone sequences from specific RELP bands. Another 21 expressed gene loci were mapped using 3' untranslated region specific cDNA probes amplified from the multicopy cDNA clones representing 17 of the r-protein multicopy gene families. The above 57 loci were mapped from 51 cDNA clones and 41 of these r-protein genes mapped to regions that did not show any clustering, while in 5 cases, pairs of r-protein genes cosegregated or linked closely. The r-protein genes in rice were located throughout the 12 chromosomes and it was found that more than one copy within a multigene family may be expressed simultaneously.